A new method of delivering data, which uses the visible spectrum rather than radio waves, has been tested in a working office.
Professor Harald Haas from Edinburgh University invented a wireless broadband technology in 2011 that uses LEDs to send data a hundred times faster than today’s wi-fi networks. The system is also more energy efficient than wi-fi and has 10,000 times the bandwidth. It is believed that the Li-Fi wireless technology will compliment existing wi-fi systems.
Wi-fi uses unlicensed 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz radio spectrum. Li-fi uses visible light between 400 and 800 terahertz. As the number of wi-fi devices proliferates, overcrowding could render wi-fi unusable. Li-fi could help ease this congestion.
Transmitting data using light isn’t anything new. Back in 1880, Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone) transmitted audio using visible light.
Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) promises connections up to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. According to researchers, the new alternative technology transmits high-speed data using visible light communication, which would reach speeds of 1 Gbps, which is about 100 times faster than a standard WiFi.
Created in 2011, the transmission via Li-Fi is made using LED lights, which flicker on and off so fast that it is completely imperceptible to the human eye. Li-Fi could, ofr example, allow users to download an HD movie in a few seconds.
At its simplest, a li-fi system consists of an LED transmitter and solar panel receiver system. It might sound basic, but it works, and it is fast. In the lab, li-fi has clocked in at speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second. Back in the real world, data speeds from a single 5Mw micro LED are around a still zippy 1-3 gigabit per second.
It’s also secure. wi-fi signals can penetrate most walls to pass beyond the boundary of your home or business and can be intercepted. Light doesn’t penetrate walls so securing a li-fi network can be as simple as drawing the blinds.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that staying online with li-fi would need the lights left on. Haas’s li-fi system is so sensitive that he’s demonstrated it working with LED bulbs dimmed to such low levels that they appear turned off.
Commercial interest is mounting. Velmenni, an Estonian company, has already developed a commercial version of the technology. They’ve already trialled it in offices and industrial environments in Estonia. The Velmenni version of li-fi has recorded speeds of up to 1GBps.
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